[ATTENDED: April 14, 2017] Julien Baker
I first heard Julien Baker from All Songs Considered. Her song “Sprained Ankle” is simply beautiful. She plays a very delicate guitar and on that song you can barely hear her voice–everything is very gentle.
I was intrigued when I saw that she was opening for The Decemberists, but I wasn’t entirely sure how much I’d like a whole set of such mellow music. But Bob Boilen has said on many occasions that you need to see her live.
And that proved to be true.
Her set started quietly with a new song, “Funeral Pyre” and then the incredibly pretty harmonics (looped) of “Funeral Pyre.” But she wasn’t all about delicate folksiness. Because on a few of these songs she belted out powerful notes–signing loud and hard and letting those notes linger for a long time. Her voice was absolutely amazing. And for just a “girl with a guitar,” she won the audience over pretty easily.
She was charming and funny, made a few jokes about herself and appreciations towards the audience. And, perhaps more impressively, she played for only about 30 minutes. She did not over stay her welcome and people were ready for more. Especially after the powerhouse new song “Turn Out the Lights.”
The audience around us were really annoying though. I seem to always stand in front of the guys who are going to “whooo” really loudly between songs. So this bozo was actually talking pretty much all the way through her song and then when it was over would bellow a whooop loudly right at my ears. His girlfriend was just as bad. Hey, applause is great and that’s what people do, but the over the top yelling is just stupid.
Even stupider? On several occasions, Baker hit and held some really pretty, beautiful notes. A couple of them for a pretty long time. But midway through people would start cheering–louder than she was singing. So now, instead of hearing this amazing voice showing off what it can do, we hear everybody else yelling. But it seemed like everybody did that so we can’t single anyone out. But unless you arrange a private showing, you always have to deal with other people, right?
Baker’s album is quite lovely but seeing her live is a great experience.
- Funeral Pyre
- Sprained Ankle
- Everybody Does
- Turn Out the Lights